Two of the joys of summer, visitors and sandals…
What do Tony Hancock, Eleanor Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela have in common? They all share their voices at the British Library Magna Carta exhibition. After all, it is a story of voices and their right to be heard. When I visited, some voices intruded; two unruly school groups and the usual suspects with audio guides. The rest instructed and reminded that, for liberty to be gained and then retained, we must remain vigilant. A highlight for me was always going to be viewing The Petition of Right, I’m an English Civil War gal. Contemporary reference to The Levellers, too, was interesting – though my interest lay not with John Lilburne (I think of his wife Elizabeth as the definition of a saint, being married to a martyr), but rather with his uncle, George. He fascinates me, but that’s another story and has no place here. In any case, I’d sincerely like to thank the British Library for reminding me of the genius of Tony Hancock, Galton and Simpson and their gift to us of Hancock’s Half Hour…
Thank you to this Liceo G.B. Morgani class; co-taught with the wonderful Brian Cooke (08-10-09)
Let me say it straight away: humans are notoriously flighty. They are often to be found in dark corners with suitcases. They have no sense of pack loyalty; they believe we need only a ‘sitter’ (when that is clearly OUR job). The first sign of their betrayal is whispering, then comes the gesticulating and finally THAT bag. The one with the zippers and wheels; very noisy indeed. Of course, I am prepared by the time it appears. Immediately, I go on patrol and circle this offending object. I force myself to sniff it, then claim it as my own by jumping into it. Pah! Putting it on the bed is no object! Once the human starts selecting items to pack, I do, too. It’s only right that I should have final say over what stays and goes. My favorite keepy-backies are underpants and shoes, though I’ll settle for socks and slippers if all else fails. Once the underpants are firmly in my jaw, I must deactivate them. Socks fall to the same fate. All small, soft items must be rendered useless to the infidel. On a good day, I allow she-whose-time-will-come to assist me (yes, she’s still here…her time WILL come, have no doubt). Two of us and a tug of war in the front yard and it’s ‘farewell frillies fast!’ Shoes are ‘saved’ through concealment. It is a golden rule that only one of each pair should be taken. She-whose-time-will-come never joins in this activity. She cares little for canine ritual, in fact for very little other than her own selfish needs. Altruism and the greater good of the pack fall squarely and solely to me, The Leader. It is hard, but I do what I can. Despite my endeavors, the case is usually full by the time the shoe has been concealed. So, the next move is to jump on the case. If the foolish one has left it open, I roll all over the items within, leaving a clear fur trail. No-one will forget me! If the case is closed, it makes a handy skateboard and the zippers are a poor dog’s chew treat. This last stage of my preparations usually results in the case being placed somewhere ‘safe’. Finally, I dog the steps of the departing one to trip them up – they will not leave (or, at least, not without bruising to the shins). This task complete, I manage my prize-winning sit, open my eyes wide and cry intermittently while mounting breathtaking displays of sickeningly saccharine affection. I shall never be forgotten, I tell you! Never!
Frank, his mark.
Yes, my dies caniculares are coming to an end for this year. It’s been an eventful time with my star in the ascendent and the adoring hordes clamoring for my personal attention, but I have made it through with my ears perked, tail aloft and nose up. This, despite extreme heat in a restricted space with a neurotic bitch. She knows who she is. Her time will come.
My pack went one down. No, not her (her time will come) – the other male slipped out under cover of darkness. Of course, I knew – how could I not? It’s hard for a leader to recover poise after such a blow, but since that curious incident of the human in the night time, I have been especially attentive. These creatures need a leader, especially those beasts who arrive from the sea confused and directionless. Who better to guide them? Many arrive lost without their own pack, which they have misguidedly left where they call ‘home’. Fools! I can only do so much to help them without a treat incentive. All these tricks and sitting pretty consume a vast amount of energy.
Speaking of which, the remaining human in my immediate pack has instituted a regime. I should have been wary when I started the week on fresh fish and pasta and was given the new name ‘pachyderm’. Since then, it’s been strictly kibble and that human throwing itself between me and digestives shouting ‘NO!’ Females, eh? Embarrassing. I am allowed only a dog treat from an opening in a nearby building. Even for this, I must jump. Occasionally, when I locate it, I mark the vehicle of ‘the one who calls me Fred’ and then my human rewards me.
As these days pass, I spend more time challenging the sea – it keeps moving and remains defiantly undrinkable. I persist. To hide my frustration, I dig furiously into the sand. Sometimes, even I am disgusted by what I discover there. And don’t get me started on the state of the nearby park. Humans! Ugh! Mine still won’t let me ‘clean’ the super-old bits of town, though. Ungracious.
Time flies, now to have a wash, take a walk, find dirt, have another wash, and choose a bed unchewed by she whose time will come. Her head fits in my jaw. Just sayin’. To sleep to dream of treats…
Frank ‘Scrapper’ Tyke, his mark